NFOIC's State FOIA Friday for January 18, 2013

January 18, 2013 12:23 PM

A few state FOIA and local open government news items selected from many of interest that we might or might not have drawn attention to earlier in the week. While you're at it, be sure to check out State FOIA Friday Archives.

Everett (Wash.) pays $17K to settle public records request

EVERETT -- The City Council agreed Wednesday to pay out $17,090 to settle a case involving the failure to provide training records for a parking-enforcement officer. The payout stemmed from Jonathan Scott Bander's July 2010 request under Washington's Public Records Act for Everett Police Department records about a parking-enforcement officer's training. Although the department did supply numerous documents, Bander remained dissatisfied and sued the city in July 2011.

Visit HeraldNet.com for the rest.

Local (S.C.) governments oppose bill on public records

COLUMBIA — South Carolina residents told legislators Thursday that a bill strengthening the state’s public records law is desperately needed, but advocates for local governments and law enforcement contend the proposal goes too far. A House panel heard testimony, but took no action, on a bill designed to force public agencies, governments and school districts to respond more quickly to Freedom of Information Act requests and to bar them from charging excessive fees. “There’s a lot of stonewalling out there,” and governments are getting away with it under the current law, said its sponsor, Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken. “The spirit of that law has been diverted.”

Visit Aiken Standard for the rest.

Lawrence League of Women Voters seeks champions of open government

The group will give the award to a Douglas County (Kan.) resident above the age of 18 who has worked to an promote community participation, accessibility or better decision-making within any level of government. “It’s just unique in that it is not just for general service,” said Lee Ketzel of the Lawrence League of Women Voters. “It honors concentration on citizen access to open government and helping to watchdog development so access is not restricted in the community.”

Visit Lawrence Journal-World for the rest.

Public records shed light on Riverside homeless dispute

Public records, such as those recently acquired by the Watchdog Blog from the city of Riverside, can illuminate a situation. You might recall the story (linked to here) about the dispute between the homeless who gather, and sleep at La Sierra Park and city officials. ... The homeless claimed that the city erected a chain-link fence around the gazebo where they gather in order to make them go away. Parks Director Ralph Nunez said the fence was actually put up in preparation for cleaning the gazebo and building a permanent fence so the public could rent the gazebo. So who is right?

Visit Press-Enterprise Watchdog Blog for the rest.

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority revises FOIA policy

The AATA board has adopted a revised policy for responding to requests made under Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act. ... The old policy was brief (one-page) and essentially outlined how much would be charged for copies, for labor to retrieve records, and how much would be charged as a deposit. The new policy is more detailed, and specifies how requests are to be logged and documented by the FOIA coordinator, a form that requesters can use to request records, and an internal form that is to be used by staff to calculate costs associated with fulfilling a request.

Visit The Ann Arbor Chronicle for the rest.